Charles Henry Duncan (1930 - 2017)

13 entries | 1 photo
  • "Dear Mrs Duncan and Family, My sincerest condolences to you..."
    - Carol Keller
  • "My condolences for Mr. Duncan's family. Although I don't..."
    - Amy Cleveland
  • "My condolences to the Duncan family. And my appreciation..."
    - Adair McClatchy
  • "Especially for Craig: My nephew Glen sent the Bee article..."
  • "Very sorry to hear about Charlie's passing. I have very..."
    - Pete Balding
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Charlie Duncan was born on May 4, 1930 in a white house on Pennsylvania Avenue in Fair Oaks, California to Reta and Marvin David Duncan. He passed peacefully, in Carmichael, only a few miles from that house, on January 17, 2017. The youngest of five children, he was preceded in death by siblings Ruth, Bruce, David, and Jean. He attended Sylvan School at Sylvan Corners in Citrus Heights and graduated from San Juan High School in 1948. At San Juan he met his future wife and devoted partner for life, Shirley Dale, as well as many other lifelong friends. After graduating from high school, Charlie attended Grant Tech (now known as American River College) where he studied broadcast technologies and gained his radio operator's license. He began his broadcasting career as the farm reporter for the McClatchy-owned KFBK radio. His time as a reporter was highlighted by interviews with Eleanor Roosevelt and three Nobel laureates. It was also during these early years he s proudly served our country in the Naval Reserve, receiving an honorable discharge in 1956. Charlie and his beloved Shirley married in 1951 and formally began their life together. Charlie is survived by Shirley and their three children Craig (Lynne), Terry, and Timothy (Carol); granddaughters Stephanie Spanier (Nathan), Allison Simcox (Brad), Ashley Cole (D.J.), Erin Duncan, and Guinevere Duncan, and five great-grandchildren. He is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews who used his cherished title, Uncle Charlie. In 1969 Charlie fulfilled a lifelong dream by completing his bachelor's degree in Speech from Sacramento State College. One year later, he was personally tapped by Eleanor McClatchy to begin the job that became his opus: Curator of the McClatchy family collection. With painstaking diligence and care, Charlie inventoried, identified, and cataloged the media giant's 130 years of news-related objects into an invaluable archival collection that now resides in the Center for Sacramento History. In 1995, after spending his entire career working for the McClatchy family including a stint as a Sacramento Bee delivery boy - Charlie officially retired from the McClatchy organization. In his leisure, Charlie loved spending time with his family. Charlie took his young family on many camping adventures while visiting friends and family on every trip. Later, the trips, he called "kin-swings," were more about the visiting of loved ones and afforded Charlie the opportunity to attend many games and performances, as well as playing peek-a-boo with his great grandchildren. Charlie was happiest when he was performing. He began his craft at San Juan High and continued sharing his characters and wit throughout the Sacramento region his entire life. For decades, his annual hosting of the Bee's Christmas Show was a highlight for many families. He performed in many productions at the Eaglet Theater, the most memorable portraying Ben Franklin in the musical, 1776. In this role Charlie was able to combine his love of history with his talent for entertaining. Over the next twenty years, Charlie would appear at public events as Ben - sharing stories of the colorful Founding Father's ribald history (when the audience was "of age") as well as charming children as the storybook Ben, known for his discovery of properties of electricity with a kite. For a generation of Sacramento youth who grew up in the mid-1960s, however, Charlie Duncan will forever be known as "Cap'n Delta" the folksy skipper of the Valley Queen on KOVR Channel 13. On a set that recreated the pilothouse of a sternwheeler, Charlie would introduce cartoons in between interviews with the children. The highlight of the show was when one of the children would be selected the winner of the "Treasure Trove," and receive a special gift located in a large steamer trunk in front of the ship's wheel. Charlie was active in many organizations, but the longest tenure was on the San Juan High Class of '48 Reunion Committee. With this unique group of dear, lifelong friends, Charlie was a key driver in planning the quinquennial reunions for nearly 70 years. Close behind the Reunion Committee was his favorite ad-hoc group known amongst themselves as the San Juan Guys. A devoted troupe of childhood friends, they have been supporting each other since their days at Sylvan and San Juan. An active parishioner since 1955, Charlie was a charter member of Northminster Presbyterian Church where he shared his gifts of writing, performing, and leading the congregation, he was ordained both as a Deacon and as an Elder. He joined and thoroughly enjoyed earning his place in McClatchy's 25-Year Club (and the 35-year and 45-year clubs, as well). He was also an active member of the Sacramento Historical Society and one of the founding members of the Valley Broadcast Legends. A celebration of Charlie's wonderfully rich and full life will be held on January 28, 2017 at 2:00 PM, Northminster Presbyterian Church, 3235 Pope Avenue, Sacramento, 95821. Reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to any organization close to Charlie's heart such as the Sacramento Regional Theater Association (SARTA.COM), the Center for Sacramento History ( or the Alzheimer's Association.
Religious Service Information
Northminster Presbyterian Chr
3235 Pope Ave
Sacramento, CA 95821
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Published in The Sacramento Bee from Jan. 22 to Jan. 27, 2017
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